"C-130 - First all female crew" by Master Sergeant Alfred A. Gerloff Jr., United States Air Force

PTSD Studies at The Brain Sciences Center: Women Veterans

Biomarkers of PTSD and Resilience in Women Veterans

Background: A large number of women veterans have developed posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of exposure to interpersonal, combat, or combat-support related traumatic events during their time in the service. However, the majority of women veterans will not experience any significant mental health problems despite exposure to potentially traumatic events. Factors that distinguish women in these two distinct trajectories are not well-understood.

Objectives: This study aims to identify objective biomarkers of PTSD and resilience in women veterans using neuroimaging and genotyping.

Methods: Women veterans with and without PTSD will be asked to complete diagnostic interviews and a brief, noninvasive assessment of brain function known as magnetoencephalography. They will also be asked to provide a blood sample for genetic analyses.

Expected Outcomes: The results of this study will improve knowledge on the pathophysiology of PTSD and resilience. Furthermore, identification of an objective indicator of PTSD will ultimately enhance veterans’ health and treatment by improving diagnoses and providing an objective biologically-based indicator to track treatment outcomes for those suffering from this devastating illness.


"PTSD is a psychiatric disorder deļ¬ned by an enduring set of maladaptive symptoms that arise after exposure to one or more potentially life-threatening events. These include unwanted re-experiencing of persistent painful trauma memories through nightmares, daytime intrusive memories and psychological distress or physiologic arousal when reminded of the trauma."
(B Engdahl, et al., "Post-traumatic stress disorder: a right temporal lobe syndrome?", J. Neural Eng. 7, 2010)

PTSD in the United States - About 7-8% of the population will have PTSD at some point in their lives. About 5.2 million adults have PTSD during a given year.

PTSD in the U. S. Armed Forces - PTSD occurs in about 11-20% of Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, 10% of Gulf War Veterans and 30% of Vietnam Veterans. (National Center for PTSD, Department of Veterans Affairs, 2010)

If you are interested in our studies, please call our Project Coordinator at 612-467-1460

photo credit: Women Veterans' Network


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Updated April 30, 2018